'Newtrition' Resolutions for Junk-food Junkies

"I know I should eat more bananas, better breakfasts, and less junk -- but I just don't want to!"

 

Sound familiar? Yes, if you are among the cluster of athletes who rationalizes that your consumption of "junk food" is OK because you exercise hard, burn off the calories and hence "deserve" a reward.

You undoubtedly know an optimal sports diet includes more fresh fruits, more vegetables, more whole grains and less fast-and-fatty foods, gooey sweets and tempting treats.

But Cinnabons taste good. So do Big Macs, Pringles and Haagen Dazs. What's life without ice cream? Or chocolate chip cookies?

Yes, the American diet includes an abundance of foods with lackluster nutrition. Some favorites have even been dubbed "heart attacks on a plate!" But for you, donuts are more fun than bran muffins. And bacon tastes better than oatmeal. Coke is preferable to skim milk.

Let's face it, America's abundance of tempting treats is a haven for junk food junkies.

Junk food may be fun for the moment, but good health is better for the long run. Given the new year is a good time for "newtrition" resolutions, you may be ready to say "Enough is enough."

You know what you should eat, yet, you just don't want to: "Yuck -- whole wheat bread, bran cereal, oatmeal, skim milk, spinach, fish, fruit for snacks and desserts ..."

If the thought of revamping your diet sends you running to Fast Food Alley, this article is designed to help you choose the road toward a healthier food plan that's livable.

Even YOU can eat well and still have fun with food! Here are a few suggestions.

Whole wheat bread

If you are an aficionado of squishy white bread, just the thought of a sandwich on whole wheat slices can zap the fun out of your lunch. Take note: Whole wheat bread is not the only way to boost your intake of wholesome grains.

A reasonable goal is to have at least half of your grain-foods be unrefined. That means you can enjoy white bread for lunch and whole grains at other times: Cheerios, oatmeal or granola for breakfast; brown rice or corn (canned or frozen) with dinner; low-fat Triscuits, popcorn or baked corn chips for a snack.

Take note: A wholesome diet need not be a "perfect" diet (read, a diet that bans white bread).

Oatmeal

Some athletes call it oatmeal; others call it wallpaper paste. While there's no denying that folks who regularly eat oats can lower their cholesterol (and risk of heart disease), you still have to eat the stuff.

If you have had undesirable encounters with gluey, gloppy oatmeal, here's a suggestion for happily including this health-protective grain into your diet: Eat oats raw.

Yup. That way, you avoid their gluey consistency.

Here's how I conquered the "I should eat oatmeal" guilt trip: I enjoy a half-cup of raw oats (either old-fashioned or instant oats taste fine) with some crispy cereal for texture and crunch (like whole grain Wheaties), plus milk, sliced banana, a handful of slivered almonds and a sprinkling of (dried) blueberries. Yum!

I enjoy this simple and satiating meal both at breakfast and often in the afternoon as a pre-exercise energizer.

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